Akoma Ntoso means “linked hearts” in the language of the Akan people of West Africa. Actually all the symbols that we have used in our project do come from their Adinkra symbols and we used the symbol for Akoma Ntoso as the logo.
All right, so why Africa? The whole thing was initially developed under Africa i-Parliaments, a United Nations project. The idea was to promote a sustainable deployment of ICT in African parliaments, to support their efforts to become more open and accountable institutions.
Africa had and has still many challenges and yes, lack of expertise in semantic technologies.
But in fact it was a good thing that IT systems in parliaments were very recent,and mostly limited to “publishing” on website. It meant that there was not the burden of “IT legacy” and it allowed African parliaments the luxury of being able to see beyond their own specific problems.
As early as 2005 there was a conference in Nairobi, "Parliaments' Information Management in Africa: Challenges and Opportunities of ICTs to Strengthen Democracy and Parliamentary Governance". And they agreed in quite a forward-looking statement that we needed - ok, again, I'm going to read this - “open and interoperable standards, innovative technologies and full access to information as a strategic objective for strengthening democracy and modernization in Africa“.
The expertise behind Akoma Ntoso was mostly from outside Africa, but the African parliaments were the ones that saw and believed first that a common standard was the way to go and demanded that the standard should have an African name.